Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Best Alternative News on the Web

I've followed the so-called "alternative" news media for some time now. In recent years, as the global economic crisis has grown in severity and the "War on Terror" has morphed into "the Arab Spring", this segment of the news media has really exploded in popularity. Unfortunately, a lot of alternative news sites are presenting information that is often poorly-sourced, exaggerated, based on pure speculation, useless, or otherwise less-than-credible. However, there are a few genuine sources of un-compromised, independently produced, serious news that far exceeds in quality anything published by the corporate, mainstream media.


ZeroHedge -- The best financial news on the internet. The unvarnished, inconvenient truth. Frequent topics of discussion include: the European sovereign debt crisis, the US's trade and budget deficits, the development of the Chinese economy, major geopolitical events, and the US employment situation (among many, many others). Updated continuously throughout the day. Published anonymously. The articles here usually require some prerequisite knowledge of finance and economics. A great place to get an insider look at the global financial markets and  learn how the global economy really works.

Max Keiser -- The best financial commentary & opinion on the net. Max Keiser pioneered the technology behind virtual equity exchanges like the Hollywood Stock Exchange. Today he is a financial activist and broadcaster who has been featured on Russia's English-language RT network, Iran's Press TV, Qatar's Al-Jazeera English, and BBC World News. Max exposes the fraudulent, broken financial markets and the financial aristocracy that has led the world into economic depression. Max is also a huge advocate of investment in precious metals.


Gary Null & the Progressive Radio Network -- Gary Null is an author and talk radio host who focuses on alternative health topics. He frequently discusses alternative therapies for disease-treatment, the use of vitamins and health supplements, diet and nutrition. Many of his views are controversial and he sometimes veers into "Snake Oil Salesman" territory -- advertising supplements with wide-ranging claims of being able to cure serious ailments. Nonetheless, much of the information he presents on the relationship between diet and health is very valuable. He began the Progressive Radio Network (PRN) in order to promote other progressive thinkers through a talk radio format. Popular transmissions include Gary Null's own Gary Null Show and Progressive Commentary Hour, Michael Ruppert's Lifeboat Hour, the Bioneers, and KPFK's Sonali Kolhatkar.


Land Destroyer Report -- An in-depth analysis of modern imperialism and resource geopolitics. Exposes the reality of US-sponsored "color revolutions" and the subversion of democracy in the Third World / Global South. Particular focus on the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Argues for self-sufficiency as a political and economic strategy.

Global Research: The Center for Research on Globalization -- A Canadian-based site that consistently puts forth analysis and opinion on global current events from a progressive, anti-globalization, anti-imperialist, anti-war point-of-view. Published by Michel Chossudovsky, an economics professor from the University of Ottawa. Publishes articles from a variety of contributors.


Infowars / Prison Planet -- Alex Jones publishes these enormously popular twin news sites. Their content usually overlaps. Frequent topics include global geopolitics, holistic and "alternative" health, surveillance and the police state, economic collapse, the Second Amendment and gun rights, and strategic relocation. The epicenter of the Patriot Movement. Alex is very close to Ron Paul and the Liberty Movement.

Chris Hedges on Truthdig -- Arguably, the heart and soul of progressivism in the United States today. One of the few genuine, un-compromised progressives left in the Obama era. Mr. Hedges has proven himself unafraid to challenge the Democratic Party and President Obama over their hypocritical continuation of the "War on Terror", their support of the PATRIOT Act and state surveillance, and their total sell-out to the forces of Wall Street. His column and books are must-reads for any self-identified progressive or leftist.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Union-backed Liberal Judge Gives 5-Year Sentence To Child-Shooter

Meet Kevin Pickard. Pickard is a 26 year old Black man from the city of Philadelphia.

Prior to his arrest, Pickard was a drug dealer. In 2010, Pickard took aim and fired several shots at a rival drug dealer on a crowded street in southwest Philadelphia.

One bullet hit Deshaown Brown, age 2 at the time. Another bullet hit his older brother, Joseph Brown, age 8. The two boys were playing in their front yard.

Philadelphia PD detectives went to extreme efforts to put together the criminal case against Pickard. They had to do so with little to no cooperation from area residents or witnesses, who are intimidated by (or advocates of) the "Stop Snitching" culture that dominates much of urban America.

The end result?

Kevin Pickard was given a 5 to 10 year sentence.  Considering predominant trends in the Pennsylvania justice system, it is very likely that Pickard will only face a 5 year sentence. Pickard will also be given credit for the time he spent behind bars awaiting trial. Thus, Pickard will likely be released in 3 years.

Why did this happen? Philadelphia residents can thank Common Pleas court Judge Lisette Shirdan-Harris.

Judge Lisette Shirdan-Harris

Who is Judge Lisette Shirdan-Harris? She has been a Court of Common Pleas Judge since 2006. She has been given awards and citations by the National Organization of Women, the Tuskegee Alumni Club, is the past President of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and is currently on the board of the Forum of Executive Women. Prior to her career in law, she was a "cultural diversity instructor" at United Airlines.

She was brought into office thanks to campaign funding from the Laborers District Council Local 322 in Philadelphia, as well as several other Building Trades Unions in the city.

What would her numbers have looked like without the backing of LDC Local 332?
“She would have lost absolutely,” said Staten Sr. the union’s president. “She would have had no chance of winning. She wasn’t known and she was new to the field.”
Why did these unions throw their money and political support behind Shirdan-Harris? Quite simply, payback. Shirdan-Harris provided legal protections for union members.

She then joined the Laborers’ District Council Prepaid Legal Fund in 1999, where she oversaw the disbursement of a $3.5 million benefit fund to providers of legal services representing 6,000 construction union members. She remained in this role until joining the Court of Common Pleas in 2006.
 So how did Shirdan-Harris justify her lenient sentence? Apparently, Pickard was in the process of "turning his life around".

In brief remarks before sentencing, Shirdan-Harris said she had taken note of letters in support of Pickard. One from a recreation center leader said Pickard had plans to start a basketball league.
Yes, Pickard shot two defenseless children, one of whom was a toddler. Yes, he was a drug dealer who intimidated and terrorized residents in his area. These facts are not in question, as Pickard pleaded guilty during court proceedings. However, he claims to have had plans to start a basketball league at a local park, a contribution to society which clearly trumps all else in the eyes of the Philadelphia (in)justice system.

So why aren't there masses of Philadelphia residents protesting this decision? Why aren't civil rights organizations filing litigation to overturn this travesty?

Why? Because this is the norm in Philadelphia.

The social infrastructure in Philadelphia is failing (as is the physical infrastructure, but that's another, albeit related, story). Key to that is the total breakdown in the judicial system. Policing measures become useless and pointless if there does not exist a judicial system to mete out punishment to criminals, and that is what has happened in the city of Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Inquirer published a startling exposé of the judicial system in Philadelphia, one in which the system spends untold taxpayer resources to coddle and protect criminals while utterly ignoring the needs of victims and witnesses ... Justice: Delayed, Dismissed, Denied.

Go read it now if you want a taste of what awaits many other cities in America that are being driven into the ground by corruption and liberal policies that advocate leniency for criminals and that dismiss advocacy of "law and order" as the product of racism or paranoia.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why Liberals Hate Matt Drudge

Bill Maher said that "the problem with racism is Matt Drudge."

MJ Rosenberg, an analyst with the liberal activist group Media Matters, referred to Matt Druge as a "racist demagogue." referred to Matt Drudge's website as "profoundly racist."

So why do liberals seem to hate Matt Drudge? Why do liberals consider his website so racist? After all, his website only very rarely includes original content. The Drudge Report is primarily made up of links to other news websites, most of which are safely within the confines of what is typically referred to as the "mainstream media" (think ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN, etc).

Liberals hate Matt Drudge because his website continually highlights liberalism's historic failure to improve the social and economic conditions that the majority of America's Black population finds itself in.

Drudge often spotlights incidents of Black crime. Drudge often includes stories that describe the depressed economic conditions, government corruption and crumbling state of physical infrastructure that is endemic to cities like Detroit, Chicago and Atlanta. Drudge often posts links to stories that point out the near-total dissolution of the family (and other traditional social support networks) in poor, minority-heavy, urban areas.

This is a major threat to liberalism.

Liberals have governed most of America's major metro areas for decades and in many major cities (Chicago being a great example) liberals have total monopolistic control over municipal governance. The Democratic Party today is anchored by social liberalism (unlike the 1930 - 1965 period when it was anchored by left-wing economics) and social liberalism has vociferously fought against traditional social institutions like the nuclear family and the church and slandered anyone who supports these institutions with terms like "patriarchal" and "fundamentalist." The majority of teacher's unions in this nation are in alliance with the Democratic Party.

When Drudge reminds readers about the degraded conditions in which Black America lives, it turns the tables and puts liberals in the "hot seat." It forces liberals to take accountability for liberalism's inability to live up to its promise of redressing social and economic inequality, even after forty-plus years of rule. After several decades, the liberal insistence that more subsidies, more funding and more social liberalism are the keys to social betterment has begun to sound hollow to many Americans. Liberals would rather sweep this ugly reality under the rug and construct a fantasy narrative wherein liberal mayors, liberal teachers and liberal social institutions bear zero responsibility for these failures. Instead, responsibility is passed on to the Tea Party, white people who died several hundred years ago and other people with no discernible influence over present-day urban policy making. The Drudge Report is the needle that bursts this fantasy bubble regularly.

This, in turn, stokes so-called "white guilt" and sharpens the demographic divisions with the Democratic Party itself. indicates that the typical Gawker reader is (1) young, (2) disproportionately female, (3) overwhelmingly white, (4) higher-income, and (5) highly-educated. A quick review of the website indicates that support for homosexual rights and feminism are the paramount political positions among the readership. The possibility that social liberalism has played a major role in the destruction of Black America is too terrible to contemplate for the Gawker demographic. It suggests that they are personally responsible for or personally benefit from racial inequality. It suggests that the demographic alliance(s) underpinning the Democratic Party are fragile and weak. Reflexive accusations of racism and ad hominem attacks on Matt Drudge himself offer an easy escape.

Because Drudge so rarely offers personal commentary and instead relies on third-party news (many from otherwise liberal outlets), he is quite difficult for liberals to argue against. This provokes the irrational, visceral reactions of intense hatred that we sometimes see. Liberals can not admit that their real objection to his website is the "type" of news story that Drudge links to, so they rely on superficial arguments about the images he chooses, the headlines he writes and the way in which he contextualizes stories on his page, and completely sidestep the socio-political questions that the content in these stories should provoke instead.

Monday, June 11, 2012

'The Nation' Is Clueless About The Economy, Shills For Obama

The Nation's Bryce Covert argues that "public sector job loss is at the heart of our stagnant economy and is a big reason why the recovery can't get real lift-off."

Underlying Covert's argument is the false assumption that all jobs are made equal. Any economist with even a modicum of sophistication understands that certain types of labor contribute far more to Gross Domestic Product, money circulation, goods output and other productivity metrics than do others. Traditionally, economists have looked upon government as non-productive labor. Government workers do not "add value" in the same way that, say, workers in the primary sector (mining, agriculture) or secondary sector (manufacturing, industry) of the economy do. This is not an alien concept to social democrats or leftists -- most Western European nations utilize a Value Added Tax that is fundamentally tied in to this concept.

Think of the national economy as a factory floor. You have a manufacturing workforce on the assembly line that produces the actual product and you have white-collar administrators who ensure that production is managed efficiently. The administrators are usually a small minority. They represent the so-called "overhead." The Nation would like us to believe that productive and administrative jobs are interchangeable and equally beneficial to the economy. They are not. The Nation would like us to believe that a nation of administrators is no different from a nation that actually produces goods and services. They are wrong on this point as well.

As long as Covert refuses to acknowledge these truths, her economic analysis will remain at the elementary level.

Furthermore, Covert argues that public sector job cuts are the result of an ideological agenda led by the right-wing in the United States. How does she account for the austerity being undertaken across Europe, where leftist governments enjoy far more support? What advice does she have for a nation like Greece, which has very limited access to the bond markets and no budgetary surplus thereby making deficit spending or public sector employment growth a near impossibility? What assurances does she have that the debt crisis afflicting Southern Europe won't soon engulf the U.S., the U.K. and Japan? Why is it that the social democratic premiers of Spain and Greece and former the Mayor of London, the self-declared socialist "Red" Ken Livingstone, all admit that the debt crisis is real and that spending, especially deficit spending, must be limited?

Covert pretends as if Europe does not exist. She pretends as if Scott Walker's victories over public sector unions in Wisconsin are an isolated product of American "ultraconservative Republicans".

The reality is that the events in Wisconsin are intimately tied to the events in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Iceland (and soon Italy). The Keynesian model of endlessly borrowing from the future in order to create make-work jobs (jobs for the sake of jobs, that don't create real physical value) and spur ever-greater consumption is fundamentally unsustainable and has reached a tipping point.

Governments across the so-called 'developed world' are waking up to this and taking action. Governments that act prudently and enforce budgetary discipline will be rewarded. In fact, they already have been to some degree. Germany and Netherlands have both severely limited their government spending. Germany is committed to a balanced budget. Germany's health care system is far more "free-market" than that of most of its Western European neighbors. As a result, they enjoy low unemployment, high income and purchasing power, and governments often run surpluses that allow for generous social benefits. In contrast, countries that are reckless and imprudent with their spending will see themselves slip into vicious cycles of wealth destruction. This has already happened in Greece. The public sector plays a far greater role in the economy in Greece than it does in Northern Europe. Structurally, social welfare schemes are far more generous in Greece than in Northern Europe. Yet Greece has one of the highest unemployment rates in the 'developed world', a declining quality of life (including health-wise), and low purchasing power.

This is the inconvenient truth that The Nation refuses to confront.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Daily Caller Attempts To Mock Bilderberg Protestors And Fails

The Bilderberg Group is currently meeting at the Westfields Marriott hotel in Chantilly, Virginia. Alex Jones and several other so-called "alternative" journalists are outside the hotel protesting the meeting.

Jamie Weinstein, Senior Editor of The Daily Caller, ambushed Jones in the above video and began asking a series of trite, mocking questions in an obvious attempt to solicit some kind of embarrassing reaction. Jones tactfully defended his views and the crowd supported him. The embarrassment and unease is visible on Weinstein's face.

Here are replies to Weinstein's idiotic questions:

Question: "If they are so powerful, why would they allow you to protest outside?"

Why does a teapot have a steam release? Institutions of power, even tyrannical ones, almost always give their populace the ability to vent their frustrations in non-threatening ways. It prevents the build-up of too much social and political tension. Alex Jones and his fellow protesters are no real threat to the power of the global elites attending this year's conference, so why bother restricting him? This is a basic truth about governmental authority that Weinstein should be aware of.

Question: "Who ever said the Bilderberg didn't exist?"

I don't think Weinstein's boss Tucker Carlson ever said that Bilderberg didn't exist, but he definitely worked his hardest to downplay the group's power.

In this video clip, Tucker Carlson greatly downplays the existence of the Bilderberg group, says it is made up of "retired State Department officials" and similar mid-level bureaucrats, and implies that those who investigate into the Bilderberg group's existence suffer from mental illness. [1]

False, Mr. Carlson. The group's attendees are not mid-level bureaucrats without power. 2012 attendees include:

*Josef Ackermann, chairman of Deutsche Bank
*Marcus Agius, chairman of Barclay's bank
*Keith B. Alexander, Director in the NSA and Commander of US Cyber Command
*Ali Babacan, Deputy Prime Minster of Turkey
*Prince Philippe of Belgium
*Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada
*Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana
*Michael J. Evans, on behalf of Goldman Sachs
*Thomas E. Donilon, National Security Advisor to the Obama administration
*Ying Fu, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs from China
*Kenneth M. Jacobs, CEO and Chairman of Lazard
*Gary Kasparov, leader of anti-Putin opposition in Russia
*John Kerry, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
*Henry Kissinger
*Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization
*Andrew Liveris, Chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical
*Michael Noonan, Minister of Finance from Ireland
*Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google

Among, many many others. [2]

These are not low-level bureaucrats. This is indeed a collection of some of the most powerful human beings on the planet. They command global institutions and hold high rank in governments around the globe. Yet people like Carlson and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell would like you to believe that these individuals are just getting together for Sunday brunch and not discussing or setting governmental or economic policy. [3] It is patently absurd to believe that this collection of individuals comes together for reasons that have nothing to do with their roles in government and business.

Their decisions and discussions affect the livelihoods of billions of people around the planet. Yet the mainstream media (especially the traditional newsprint and television media) has refused to report on it for years. When individuals comment on the notable media blackout (or "brownout" rather, as the mainstream coverage that does exist is greatly muted), individuals like Weinstein step in to mock and disparage them.

Their goal is to prevent any movement towards greater transparency and openness, quite simply.

But now the lid has been blown off. The Drudge Report has linked to articles on Bilderberg. Former Bilderberg member and NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes has publicly commented on the policy-setting and consensus-setting nature of the conference. [4] The Guardian now sends reporter Charlie Skelton to report on the Bilderberg conference annually. [5] Even the Huffington Post has published articles about the group.

The real question is whether the global elite will continue to use the Bilderberg conference as a vehicle now that it has been publicly "exposed" to a level previously unprecedented.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

BBC Caught Using Phony Photo to Promote War in Syria

The BBC published the above photo on its website on the date of May 27th, 2012. It cites an "activist" and "cannot be independently verified" but "is believed to show the bodies of children in Houla awaiting burial."

Houla is a city in Syria that is currently the site of anti-government protests and reports of widespread political violence. The reported "massacre" in Houla (the confirmed details of which are still vague in the Western media) is being used by the media to hype the possibility of a NATO-led military "intervention" in Syria, one very similar to 2011's "intervention"in Libya.

The photo was actually taken on March 27th, 2003 in Iraq by photographer Marco di Lauro. Di Lauro works for Getty Images and has been published by newspapers across Europe and the United States. The photo does not depict "bodies of children" but rather skeletons found in the desert.

This is either extraordinarily uncharacteristically negligent editing and fact-checking on the part of the BBC, or someone within the BBC purposefully used this photo with the intent of inflaming Western popular opinion against Syria in order to justify military action. Remember that the BBC is a publicly-funded semi-autonomous public service broadcaster that ultimately responds to the British government.

Monday, May 28, 2012

June 2012: Vote NO on California Proposition 29!

Proposition 29 is on the June 5th, 2012 ballot in California. Proposition 29 adds a new $1.00 tax to each pack of cigarettes sold in the state, on top of the existing $0.87 tax that is currently in place.

The California Legislative Analyst's Office projects that the tax will raise $735 million in new revenue.

Proposition 29 creates a massive, new bureaucracy to administer these funds. The bureaucracy will be run by a 9-member governing committee made up of 3 University of California chancellors, 4 individuals appointed by the Governor, and 2 individuals appointed by the Director of the California Department of Public Health.

Approximately $16 million will be used to administer this new bureaucracy (collecting, auditing and distributing the revenue). Approximately $23 million will be diverted to law enforcement agencies to fund their anti-tobacco efforts. Approximately $30 million will be diverted to the California Department of Education to fund their anti-tobacco education efforts. Approximately $585 million, by far the biggest chunk of the revenues, will be used to subsidize the medical sector of the economy through government loans and grants to the private sector along with government funding of capital expenditures like building and facilities construction.

California faces a $16 billion deficit right now, in the midst of a deep recession in the real economy. Proposition 29 would raise taxes, create a new state bureaucracy, and increase subsidies to the private sector medical industry that is already massively subsidized in California through Medi-Cal and previous anti-tobacco tax funds.

So who is pushing this initiative? Michael Bloomberg (Mayor of New York City), who does not even live in California, is a major bank-roller of the initiative. However, the main bank-rollers of the initiative are many of the same entities that are likely to benefit from the government loans and grants that Proposition 29 will create: the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Volunteers Organized for Community Empowerment, Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund and others.

Vote NO on California Proposition 29!

Even the liberal Los Angeles Times, which has a track record of supporting anti-tobacco initiatives, does not support Proposition 29.

Vote NO on California Proposition 29!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Racial Demographic Changes in Major American Cities: 2000 - 2010

This is one of the best demographic resources I have found:

Block by block demographic changes mapped across major urban regions: 2000 to 2010 (LA, Chicago, Boston, Houston, Washington DC, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Phoenix, Detroit, Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte)

June 2012: Vote NO on California Proposition 28!

California Proposition 28 is also known as the California Change in Term Limits Initiative.

Proposition 28 weakens terms limits.

Currently, California legislators can serve 6 years in the Assembly and 8 years in the Senate, for a total of 14 years. Proposition pretends to strengthen term limits by reducing the total number of years that a legislator can serve to 12. However, under Proposition 28, those 12 years can be served in whichever chamber in whatever combination. So a legislator will be able to serve a full 12 years in the Assembly OR a full 12 years in the Senate.

It is statistical fact that legislators are at their most vulnerable when they change districts or move from one chamber to the other. Incumbents are forced to challenge incumbents. It ensures turnover in the legislative body and healthy competition of ideas. It prevents politicians from becoming entrenched. It makes it more difficult for parties to establish hegemonic "machines" in districts with low turnout.

The end result of Proposition 28 will be less turnover in the legislative body, entrenched politicians and more partisanship.

Proposition 28 was funded by lobbyists.

Two of the major donors to the pro-Proposition 28 campaign are Majestic Realty and LA Live Properties. LA Live Properties is controlled by Philip Anschutz. Majestic Realty is controlled by Ed Roski. Roski and Anschutz have been competing to build an NFL stadium in Los Angeles. In order to complete a project as big as building a stadium in LA County one must cut through miles of red tape, much of it imposed by the legislature. Majestic Realty's donation came two months after the Legislature exempted a Majestic Realty project from having to follow environmental laws.

Don't let the legislature roll back term limits!

Californians put term limits into place in 1990 with Proposition 140.

In 2002, the President Pro Tem of the California Senate, John Burton (D - San Francisco), led the campaign for Proposition 45. Proposition 45 was an attempt to soften term limits by allowing legislators to serve an additional 4 years. The electorate defeated it.

In 2008, public sector unions led the campaign for Proposition 93, an effort to extend legislator's terms to 12 years in a manner very similar to today's Proposition 28. Once again, the electorate defeated it.

These forces are at work today with Proposition 28. They think if they keep forcing the issue onto the ballot over-and-over they will eventually win. They have lots of campaign funds but not much grassroots support.

Protect democracy in California - vote NO on Proposition 28 in June!

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Sarkozy-Libya Connection: A Timeline

May 6, 2007: Nicolas Sarkozy defeats Segolene Royal in the 2007 French Presidential election. According to French investigative news website Mediapart, Sarkozy's campaign was partially funded by a 50 million Euro payment from the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, which was laundered through banks in Panama and Switzerland.

July 24, 2007: Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor are released by the Gaddafi regime after being jailed for 8 years in Libya. The release is thanks to French diplomatic intervention.

July 25, 2007: President Sarkozy travels to Tripoli, Libya. According to French magazine Les Inrockuptibles, Sarkozy secured the release of the foreign medics the previous day by signing a secret nuclear accord with Libya on top of a public accord to provide Libya with a nuclear-powered desalination plant.

December 10, 2007: Libyan leader Gaddafi arrives in Paris for a five-day visit with President Sarkozy. Gaddafi notoriously pitches a Bedouin-style tent in the gardens of the former Paris mansion of Baron Gustave de Rothschild. Gaddafi signed $15 billion worth of business contracts while in Paris, which included the purchase of French-made conventional armaments.

March 19, 2011: French aircraft are the first to enter Libyan airspace as NATO declares war on the Gaddafi regime. 

March 26, 2011: In the opening stages of the Libya-NATO War, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, publicly reveals that Libya funded Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 Presidential campaign and that the Libyan regime has the financial documents to prove so.

September 1, 2011: French newspaper Liberation publishes a report that the anti-Gaddafi rebel force known as the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) promises to reserve a third of Libyan crude oil output for French companies in return for French support of the anti-Gaddafi uprising.

September 4, 2011: In the midst of the Libya-NATO War, files are found in Tripoli showing the deep connections between the Libyan national intelligence agency under the Gaddafi regime (led by Moussa Koussa), the U.S.'s Central Intelligence Agency and the United Kingdom's MI6 intelligence agency. The files show that the CIA had transported several prisoners to Libya in order to tortured under the "extraordinary rendition" program.

October 20, 2011: Muammar Gaddafi is killed in the Sirte District of Libya by rebel forces.

April 22, 2012: Sarkozy loses the first round of voting in the 2012 French Presidential election to Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande.

April 29, 2012: Shukri Ghanem, Libya's Oil Minister at the beginning of the Libya-NATO War, is found floating dead in the Danube River in Vienna, Austria. Police have no indication it was a suicide.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 French Presidential Election Round One: Political Fragmentation and Rethinking the European Union

Preliminary results for round one of the French Presidential election are emerging. As of Sunday, April 22nd (7:00 PM PDT) the results indicate that Francois Hollande and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy will move on to the second round.

This election proves that the political landscape in France is extremely fragmented. Together, Hollande and Sarkozy will likely take less than 60% of the total vote. Regardless as to which one of the two eventually becomes President, he will be the first choice of less than one-third of the French electorate (that actually bothered to vote).

Marine Le Pen of the National Front will likely take about 18% of the vote. Jean-Luc Melenchon of the Left Front will likely take about 11% of the vote. Francois Bayrou of the Democratic Movement will likely take about 8% or 9% of the vote.

It is very rare for a Presidential election in a developed-economy, major Western power to have five serious candidates, each of which takes a significant percentage (>5%) of the total vote. The standard model in developed Western powers is the political version of a duopoly. That's noteworthy and signals political fragmentation. The French populace feels alienated and disenfranchised by the current political establishment.

The break-out stars of this election (Le Pen and Melenchon) are very critical of the European integration project (to a degree that would be considered quite radical in several other European Union nation) and that is not a coincidence.

Le Pen wants to take control of monetary policy away from the European Central Bank and return it to the French state. That would necessitate pulling out of the Euro common currency (and presumably returning to the Franc). Le Pen is extremely critical of the Eurozone financial system. She recently said:
"Goldman Sachs topples governments everywhere. [...] Goldman Sachs places its men at the top of Eurozone countries. Goldman Sachs puts its man at the head of the European Central Bank [...] In Greece, Italy, the ECB, oligarchs have taken power." [1]
Melenchon is against the Treaty of Lisbon, one of the foundational documents of the European Union. Melenchon argues that the European Union has been hijacked by technocrats and financial interests and is no longer a democratic project. Melenchon also calls on France to leave NATO.

Even Sarkozy, one of the biggest pro-European integrationists (europhiles in the European jargon) in the world, has taken to nationalism. Sarkozy has threatened to pull France out of the Schengen Area, which allows for greatly relaxed border controls within the EU. Sarkozy took this position as part of his stated policy aim of reducing immigration into France by 50%. Sarkozy likely took this anti-immigrant position in order to stem the loss of voters to Le Pen, the candidate most critical of existing immigration policy.

If this French election is any indication of what we can expect elsewhere on the continent, the European political landscape is in the process of fragmentation and the European populace is seriously rethinking European integration (or at least the form that integration will take).


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sean Stone Calls For Obama's Impeachment in 2012 (or, The Case Against Obama's Reelection)

Sean Stone, son of film director Oliver Stone (Salvador, Platoon, Wall Street, JFK, W.), has published a video calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama in 2012.

I am pleasantly surprised by the way this video concisely summarizes the case against voting for Obama's reelection this year. The video challenges the viewer to transcend the false left-right political paradigm. Many of the points made against Obama also apply to his (likely) challenger Mitt Romney. If you are dissatisfied with both the Republican and Democratic parties, consider supporting Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty or Gary Johnson's 2012 bid for the presidency as the Libertarian Party's candidate.

Sean Stone makes some great points when he discusses Obama's economic policy and the (on-going) financial sector bailouts:
The Obama administration not only endorsed the 2008 bailout policy, the funds from which did not go either to homeowners or for taxpayers' protection but rather to the consolidation of private banks, many of them in Europe. [sic] There was no investment of any meaningful type in the physical economy. There was no protection of the American people but rather an illegal commitment made on behalf of private banking institutions to commit the American people to paying a debt that the American people did not accrue. The trillions of dollars that were pledged to the private banking sector are backed by the assets belonging to the American people. This combine represents the most clear violation of the principle of the general welfare in the preamble to the Constitution of the United States. 
Video URL:

Monday, April 9, 2012

U.S. Working With Known Terrorist Group to Destabilize Iran

The New Yorker's Seymour Hersch made a startling revelation on April 6th when he revealed that the U.S.'s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has been working with and training members of The People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), a known terrorist group, for years. During the Bush administration, the group was even trained in the deserts of Nevada. [1]

Unfamiliar with The People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK)? Here are some key facts for you to digest:

  • The MEK was founded as an overtly and explicitly Islamic and Marxist-Leninist political movement in Iran in 1965. [2]
  • During the Iran-Iraq War, the MEK was given sanctuary by Saddam Hussein within Iraq. The MEK launched attacks on Iran from Iraqi territory during this period. [3]
  • According to the Iranian government, the MEK is responsible for the deaths of over 17,000 Iranians. [4]
  • Saddam Hussein used the MEK to brutally crush and suppress the Kurdish uprising in northern Iraq in 1991. [5]
  • The MEK has murdered several Americans in terrorist attacks, including Colonel Lewis Hawkins (June 5, 1973) and U.S. Air Force General Harold Price (May 31, 1972). [6]
  • According to Human Rights Watch, the MEK ran prison camps in Iraq during the recent Iraq War ("Operation Iraqi Freedom") and committed serious human rights abuses against prisoners (most of whom were former MEK militants trying to leave the organization). [7]
  • As of April 2012, the MEK is listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department (under the name Mujahedin-e Khalq, the source of the MEK acronym). [8]
  • The MEK received most of its funding from the Saddam Hussein regime, to the tune of $30 million a month. [9]
Are you surprised that the U.S. government is cooperating with a known terrorist group that is responsible for the murder of U.S. military personnel? Are you surprised that the U.S. military is now training this same group within American borders? If you answered 'yes,' you clearly don't pay much attention to the (real) news.
  • Former Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell is under investigation from the Treasury Department for taking money from the MEK for speaking engagements. [10]
U.S. citizens are not supposed to take money from or do business with known terrorist organizations according to U.S. law (unless you're the U.S. military or the Bush/Obama administrations, in which case you're above the law).
  • Many U.S. politicians support removing the MEK from the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (which would open the door for more funding and training from Western governments) including: former Vermont Governor and former DNC Chairman Howard Dean; Obama's first national security advisor, retired General James Jones; former CIA Director James Woolsey; former CIA Director Porter Goss; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; former U.S. Representative to the United Nations John Bolton; former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge; and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. [11]
  • Mitt Romney's foreign policy advisor Mitchell Reiss is a major supporter of the MEK. [12]

Are you confused? Are you wondering why major U.S. politicians are backing a terrorist group that was sponsored by Saddam Hussein, advocated Marxism-Leninism, brutally crushed the Kurdish population of Iraq, and killed Americans? Wasn't Saddam Hussein a major threat to freedom, according to the Bush administration? Didn't we invade Iraq in part to help the Kurdish population escape violent repression? Are you wondering why supposed peace activists like Howard Dean are teaming up with neo-conservatives like John Bolton?

The answer is obvious.

Let's go back to Hersh's article, where he informs us that:

  • In 2002, the MEK was the first organization to publicly reveal that Iran was enriching uranium as part of its nuclear project. According to the Mohamed El Baradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that information was provided by Mossad (Israeli intelligence) to the MEK, which acted as an information and media conduit. [1]
  • The U.S. trained the MEK to perform "communication intercepts" within Iran, which included intercepting telephone calls and text messages. [1]
  • Two "senior Obama Administration officials" have confirmed that MEK units, trained and financed by Israeli Mossad, are responsible for the assassinations of five Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007. [1]
  • Rudolph Giuliani has described the MEK and its efforts to "overthrow the regime of Iran" as the "only way to stop Iran" and "the only thing that will stop Ahmadinejad." [13]
The MEK has rapidly and significantly upgraded its military capability since developing a relationship with the U.S. and Israel. An excerpt from Hersh's article:
“The M.E.K. was a total joke,” the senior Pentagon consultant said, “and now it’s a real network inside Iran. How did the M.E.K. get so much more efficient?” he asked rhetorically. “Part of it is the training in Nevada. Part of it is logistical support in Kurdistan, and part of it is inside Iran. M.E.K. now has a capacity for efficient operations that it never had before."
Let us summarize ... The MEK has been trained and financed by the U.S. and Israel for years. The MEK has assassinated several Iranian nuclear scientists. The MEK has spied on the Iranian people by illegally intercepting digital communications. The MEK has been a major propaganda agent in the West's saber-rattling press campaign against Iran. The MEK released evidence of Iranian uranium enrichment on behalf of Israel's Mossad. The fact that the MEK released this information instead of Mossad gives it the veneer of legitimacy, as it is coming from a group of Iranian exiles and dissidents instead of a hostile foreign intelligence agency (even though the intelligence in actuality originated from said hostile foreign intelligence agency).

Now we have a plethora of politicians in the U.S. suddenly and without much precedent emerge on a major campaign to have the MEK removed from the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, which would allow Western governments (especially the U.S. and Israel) to dramatically increase funding to and cooperation with the MEK in an above-the-board, completely legal manner. In the background, U.S. President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu continue to talk of possible military action against Iran later in 2012 or in 2013.

Get the picture? The West is using the MEK to destabilize Iran and provoke a major military conflict. The MEK is a key piece in the geopolitical "game" that the U.S. is playing in the Middle East and Southwest/Central Asia.

Addendum: Hersh states that the MEK was trained at the Nevada National Security Site, formerly known as the Nevada Test Site. This is one of the most radioactively contaminated sites in North America. It is also just a few miles south of the notorious Area 51. Just an interesting tidbit.

[2]: The Iranian Mojahedin, Ervand Abrahamian, 1989

Sunday, April 8, 2012

California Fisheries Potentially Affected by Fukushima Radiation

A new report states that unusually high levels of radioactive iodine 131 have been detected in kelp off the coast of California.

From the San Francisco Chronicle (4/8/2012):

Scientists from CSU Long Beach tested giant kelp collected off Orange County, Santa Cruz and other locations after the March 2011 accident and detected radioactive iodine, which was released from the damaged nuclear reactor.
The largest concentration was about 250 times higher than levels found in kelp before the accident.
The study's authors suggest that the radioactive particles were brought across the Pacific from the Fukushima area by weather patterns. 

The San Francisco Chronicle article understates the threat that this discovery poses. 

From the Newport Beach Patch (4/7/2012):

Cesium 137 has a half life of 30 years, as opposed to iodine 131's half life of below 10 days, so it may be present in California kelp to this day, said Manley.
"We were limited in what our instrumentation allows us to do," he said. "The big question was, 'is another major isotope that came over in the cloud, cesium 137, present in the kelp, too?' "
Followup work showed varying amounts of low levels of radioactive cesium in seaweed from samples near UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz, the scientists said. No radioactivity was found in seaweed from Alaska.
So the article confirms that cesium has indeed been found off the coast of California. As the article indicates, cesium 137 has a half life of 30 years. This radioactive material is not only here, but will be here for the following three decades.

The article also notes that fish have a thyroid system system that utilizes iodine. The thyroid system regulates hormones. That means the unusually high levels of iodine may affect fish populations in ways we can't even predict currently.

More importantly, it means that these radioactive particles are now in the food chain. California fisheries produce much of the seafood consumed along the coast and transported to the inland parts of the U.S. One has to wonder whether these radioactive particles will eventually make their way into the human population and affect human thyroid systems as well.

As previously stated on this blog, 'developed world' governments have failed to fully account for the damage that the Fukushima accident caused and continue to understate the threat that this radiation continues to pose to human populations all over the globe.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nuclear Policy Contradiction: Nuclear Drones in the Era of Fukushima

Nick Fielding, writing for The Guardian (4/2/12):

American scientists have drawn up plans for a new generation of nuclear-powered drones capable of flying over remote regions of the world for months on end without refuelling.

The blueprints for the new drones, which have been developed by Sandia National Laboratories – the US government's principal nuclear research and development agency – and defence contractor Northrop Grumman, were designed to increase flying time "from days to months" while making more power available for operating equipment, according to a project summary published by Sandia.
Luckily, for humanity:

A halt has been called to the work for now, due to worries that public opinion will not accept the idea of such a potentially hazardous technology, with the inherent dangers of either a crash – in effect turning the drone into a so-called dirty bomb – or of its nuclear propulsion system falling into the hands of terrorists or unfriendly powers.
 Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth (The Economic Times - 4/3/12):

Scientists have found radioactive material from the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor in tiny sea creatures and ocean water some 600 km off the coast of Japan, revealing the extent of the release and the direction pollutants might take in a future environmental disaster.  

Buesseler said the marine radiation levels are comparable to those seen after past accidents, such as Chernobyl accident in 1986.  
Are the leaders of the developed nations mad? Yes, Sandia Labs and Northrop Grumman have halted the project, which we are told was only a conceptual exercise.

Nonetheless, why are taxpayer dollars being spent on such a project? The U.S. is in serious economic distress. Fielding doesn't report on how much this conceptual exercise cost. Nonetheless, a look back at the huge budgets and huge cost overruns with past defense industry projects suggests to me that considerable resources were probably spent on this "conceptual exercise."

The whole project seems so risky and so potentially dangerous that it seems absurd to imagine that intelligent engineers and scientists were willing to spend more than a few seconds on this project.

Have they not been paying attention to the news from Fukushima? Including reports that Reactor 4 of the complex still poses a major meltdown threat. Or the blog chatter reporting on Japanese citizens who have been recording and documenting extraordinarily high levels of radiation in major cities. The world hasn't fully accounted for the fall-out (literal and metaphorical) from the Fukushima disaster. Despite the fact that it still poses a major environmental and health risk to a large chunk of the globe, it's rarely a major topic of discussion in the U.S. mainstream media as of April 2012. The disaster will have a major effect on Japan for decades.

Let's hope that Western leaders learn from the Fukushima disaster and rethink Western nuclear policy, with an emphasis on safety and long-term security.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

U.K. Set to Expand Internet Surveillance

Britain's Telegraph newspaper is reporting that the U.K. government is set to pass legislation that will force internet companies to install hardware that will allow the government to monitor, in real-time, any phone call, text message, e-mail and all internet traffic.

Source: Internet activity 'to be monitored' under new laws

If you're a resident of the U.K., please spread the word to your friends and family. This is vital information for anyone who does business through electronic means and anyone who still (erroneously) has an expectation of privacy.

The director of the 'Big Brother Watch' activist group said:
"This is an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran."

What is the "Global Minimum Tax"?

Recently, while at a campaign stop in Iowa, Vice President Joe Biden called for a "Global Minimum Tax." Here's what he said:

"For years, American manufacturers have faced one of the highest tax rates in the world. We want to reduce that by over 20%. We want to drop the rate, particularly, for high-tech manufacturers like you, Mr. President, even further than the 20%. We want to create (what's called) a global minimum tax, because American taxpayers shouldn't be providing a larger subsidy for investing abroad than investing at home."
Many people were shocked. Was Biden suggesting that the U.S. would try to implement some form of taxation on a supranational basis?

 Such a suggestion would not necessarily be new in the U.S. political sphere. In 2009, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote in support of a "Tobin tax," which would levy a tax on all conversions of one currency into another. In late 2011, Bill Gates also announced his support for a "Tobin tax."

The "Tobin tax" is named after economist James Tobin. James Tobin argued for his tax idea in a 1978 article in the Eastern Economic Journal titled "A Proposal for International Monetary Reform." In it, he voices support for globally implementing "a common currency, common monetary and fiscal policy, and economic integration" but acknowledges that this is not politically viable. Instead, he suggests the tax on currency exchange which would "be an internationally agreed uniform tax" where the "tax proceeds could appropriately be paid into the IMF or World Bank."

So indeed there has been a serious proposal for a global taxation authority in U.S. politics in the recent past. It's no secret that Paul Krugman's policy writings are a major influence over the Obama administration.

Alas, I don't believe this is what Vice President Biden was referring to. Biden was referring to Gene Sperling's proposal to tax the foreign profits of U.S. based companies and corporations. Gene Sperling is the Director of the National Economic Council. Lawrence Summers held the post before him. Mr. Sperling worked in the Clinton Administration, was on the staff of the Council on Foreign Relations, worked for Goldman Sachs and is a close associate of Timothy Geithner.

Sperling's proposal is astounding. Let's deconstruct the proposal by analyzing Biden's words.

"For years, American manufacturers have faced one of the highest tax rates in the world."
Biden presents this as a wrong that the Obama administration is out to correct. He completely overlooks the fact that the Democratic party played a major role in raising that tax rate to the uncompetitive level it is now at.

"We want to create (what's called) a global minimum tax, because American taxpayers shouldn't be providing a larger subsidy for investing abroad than investing at home."
This is a completely Orwellian way of speaking about the tax proposal. Essentially, Biden is admitting that high tax rates in the U.S. have forced manufacturers to go abroad in order to stay competitive in international markets. American taxpayers are not subsidizing foreign investment. Manufacturers have been pushed into foreign investment by a greedy U.S. government that can't control its spending.

Biden never touches upon the risks of this proposal. He ignores the possibility that, instead of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., companies may simply officially relocate themselves to foreign countries in order to thereby avoid the U.S. tax structure almost entirely. Such a development would be a tremendous blow to the U.S. economy during a fragile period.

In both of the above cases, the "Tobin tax" and Gene Sperling's "Global Minimum Tax," the goal is to limit competition between different economic systems and instead corral everyone into a unitary, uniform financial structure. The "Tobin tax" would make it more expensive to convert your U.S. dollars into a foreign currency. And any such transaction would be subject to regulation by supranational entities like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which are not responsible to any electorate. The "Global Minimum Tax" negates any benefit one might attain by doing business abroad. It is a financial "fence" meant to keep you and your money within the confines of the U.S. tax structure, even if there are far better economic opportunities abroad. This will likely end up greatly limiting U.S. investors and pricing them out of key international markets.


I intend to write about three main topics: (1) economics, the ongoing global financial crisis, markets, and global economic change; (2) civil liberties and democracy; (3) geopolitics and global conflicts.

You know, lighthearted stuff like that.

I may touch upon a few other topics as well.

I'm a historian, so that's the prism I'm usually looking at events through.

I have strong opinions but I don't have allegiance to any particular political label or political party or politician(s).